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L.A. Schools

March 26, 2000

* Your March 19 editorial, " 'Mini' Paths to Good Schools," comes down squarely on the side of merit pay for teachers. In doing so, you completely ignore the one absolute reason that merit pay is unfair: social promotion. Next year I will teach fourth grade at a school that is at the absolute bottom of all Academic Performance Index measures. Experience tells me that at least two-thirds of my class will have been socially promoted through every grade, eight to 10 students won't know the alphabet and some of them will never have done a single homework assignment, because they knew they would get passed on anyway. Yet you want to tie my salary to the achievements of these students.

Make no mistake, a school system that socially promotes children is only pretending to educate them. I guess it is fitting, then, that they only want to pretend to pay teachers what the job is worth.


Los Angeles


* As long as LAUSD Supt. Ramon Cortines and The Times continue to think that scores on standardized tests have anything to do with classroom instruction, any plan that ties teacher pay to improving "test" scores is doomed to failure and legal challenge.

Not only does the Stanford 9 fail to test achievement in many of the single subjects taught in secondary schools, but it also fails to assess students' writing skills and a myriad of other higher order thinking skills essential for success in further education and life after school.


Teacher Educator

Family & Consumer Sciences

Cal Poly Pomona


* Instead of lashing out at teachers, isn't it time you took a more rational approach based on research and reality? Can you cite any studies that actually show a correlation between merit pay and student achievement? Can you point to verifiable evidence that classroom assignment by principals, rather than by teachers based on seniority, results in better learning by children? Can you even define your much-used word, "accountability," as it relates to education?

Anyone can have an opinion on any subject, and these days education seems to be a favorite. But without substantiation, your arguments are simply one more pompous example of chanting the accountability mantra, bashing the teachers' union and making shallow generalizations.




* This is in response to "Tough Style of Cortines, Miller Offends Many" (March 20). As a parent, I welcome and applaud the tough style of Cortines and chief of operations Howard Miller. It has finally given me some hope of rescuing the children of our city from educational disaster.

I have written several letters to Supt. Cortines, mostly on the subject of math instruction, which you covered so well in "Debate Over How to Teach Math Takes Cultural Turn" (March 17). To my astonishment, Cortines called me on the telephone to discuss the issues that I had raised. That he would listen, for a considerable time, with great patience and courtesy, to the views of a simple parent seems to me to illustrate a tremendous effort toward outreach and coalition building.


San Pedro

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